residential area

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Raiffeisenring residential area in Buldern

A residential area is a building area that is used exclusively or primarily for living .

German building planning law

In Germany the residential area (W) is one of the four general types of structural use . The Building Utilization Ordinance (BauNVO) defines the properties and types of a residential area, while the land-use planning of a municipality identifies the areas that are used as residential areas. According to the BauNVO, a residential area can be divided into four different building areas (special type of structural use):

Small settlement area (WS)

  • Small settlement area according to § 2 BauNVO - a building area that is primarily used to accommodate small settlements including residential buildings and corresponding kitchen gardens and agricultural sideline jobs.

The small settlement area is a building area with a special purpose and character and, in addition to the actual residential use in the residential buildings or apartment buildings, also serves for self-sufficiency in the commercial part of the appropriately large property through horticultural use and small animal husbandry.

However, self-sufficiency has declined in recent years and the keeping of small animals as a leisure activity has largely replaced farm animal husbandry. If the cost of living rises, this trend can change again and the small settlements gain in importance.

Purely residential area (WR)

  • Purely residential area according to § 3 BauNVO - a building area that is only used for living. Shops and non-disruptive craft businesses and small businesses in the accommodation trade that serve to cover the daily needs of the resident population, as well as social institutions, are exceptionally eligible.
Typical pure residential area with free-standing residential buildings without mixed use.

A purely residential area is usually used as a building area exclusively for living. Other uses are very restricted and usually only eligible if they have a supply or supplementary function. The focus is on quiet living: Even with a thoroughly desired mix of uses, the pure residential area should be largely spared from outside influences.

The concept of living is characterized by long-term domesticity, self-organization of housekeeping and the domestic sphere of activity as well as voluntary residence and includes all activities associated with running a household; this also includes the use of motor vehicles and the associated disruptions.

For the concept of domesticity, which is associated with living, it does not matter whether the residents of the apartment suitable for permanent use are formally registered with their primary or secondary residence and how often they stay there; Self-used holiday homes or holiday apartments also fall under the concept of living.

However, a distinction must be made between permanent living and temporary accommodation: Forms of (arranged) accommodation in homes or accommodation are usually not included in the concept of living and are therefore not permitted in a purely residential area.

In zoning plans, purely residential areas (WR) are usually only shown for clearly delimited single-family house areas for reasons of compatibility with different uses. As a rule, residential areas are designated as general residential areas (WA).

General residential area (WA)

  • General residential area according to § 4 BauNVO - a building area that is primarily used for living. In addition to residential buildings, shops and restaurants “serving the area” as well as non-disruptive craft businesses and community facilities are permitted. Hotels, other non-disruptive businesses, administrative buildings, horticultural companies and petrol stations are exceptionally eligible.
New building area near Eisenach as an example of a general residential area.

The general residential area is primarily used as a residential area. The residential character of the area has to catch the observer's eye despite the desired mix of uses due to the number of buildings with apartments. The general residential area comprises a wide range of residential building areas; the building areas defined in this type of structural use differ from one another in their urban density and the associated disruptive factors typical for the area.

In addition to living, only residential-compatible uses are permitted, which are usually linked to the supply function for the area. The buildings are partly used exclusively for living, but partly also mixed with shops and non-disruptive craft businesses on the ground floor, offices and practices above, especially for professions and of course apartments on the upper floors.

Special residential area (WB)

  • Area for the maintenance and development of residential use (special residential area) according to § 4a BauNVO - a building area that is primarily used for living, but in which other uses may be maintained and developed that are typical for the residential area and compatible with residential use. Residential buildings, accommodation and restaurants, other businesses and offices are permitted. Central administrative facilities, amusement facilities and petrol stations are exceptionally eligible. In the development plan it can be stipulated that only apartments are permitted above a certain floor, or that a certain area of ​​the building is to be used for living.
The Nauwieser Viertel in Saarbrücken is a typical special residential area with a grown structure and houses from the early days .

The area category special residential area serves to maintain and further develop residential use in predominantly built-up areas that have a special peculiarity due to the actual residential use and other existing facilities permitted in the intended area of ​​application in accordance with Section 4a (2) BauNVO. Due to this reference, the special residential area differs in its system from the other building areas; According to this, only those areas can be determined to which all of the criteria listed apply.

Similar to the urban areas , this area category will be relatively densely built-up inner-city areas with a high proportion of living space while at the same time being mixed with service companies and smaller traders who, due to the special milieu (“individuality”), will be different despite a noticeable tendency towards displacement of living or the emigration of the original population according to the recognizable planning goal of the municipality as a residential location in the long term. Due to the mixed situation characterized by different uses, these old building areas can neither be clearly classified as a mixed area nor as a general residential area .

In development plans, the definition of a special residential area (WB) is only used in special cases. Newly planned residential areas are defined as small settlement areas, purely residential areas or, as a rule, as general residential areas.


  • Carl Fickert, Herbert Fieseler: Building Use Ordinance. Comment with special consideration of the German and Community environmental protection with additional legal and administrative regulations . 11th edition (2008), publisher: Kohlhammer. ISBN 3-17-020174-3 .
  • Ronald Kunze: Keywords small settlement area, purely residential area, general residential area, special residential area . in building regulations in the picture . Kissing 2008. ISBN 3-8277-2616-6 .

Web links

Commons : Residential Areas  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: residential area  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations